Monday, October 8, 2007

Song of the Day - Eddie Vedder & Corin Tucker: "Hard Sun"

Movie soundtracks are always such a hit or miss affair. Think about it, they are essentially meant to market another piece of art, or, in the case of many big budget films, they serve as yet another revenue stream to suck more money from the film going public. This combination usually is a recipe for disaster, which is why it is no surprise that most of the good movie soundtracks eschew the marketing angle and instead find success by complimenting their film's narrative. Sounds like a pretty self-explanatory concept, but most soundtracks fail when trying to accomplish this (probably because most films fail at the narrative part).

While watching Sean Penn's wonderful adaptation of the best-selling book Into the Wild, I was struck by how well he used music to tell the Christopher McCandless's remarkable life story. Rather than relying on past works, Penn enlisted the help of Eddie Vedder to write and record 11 original songs inspired by the film and book's narrative. It really is a perfect match, since the film is about a maladjusted young man who's vision of his place in the world is driven by an idealism that ultimately leads to his rejection of his family and society as a whole. If you are a big fan of Pearl Jam's music (as I am and make no apologies for it) then these types of themes should be familiar to you already.

In "Hard Sun" Vedder enlists the help of former Sleater-Kinney vocalist/guitarist to create a song that captures the great reverence McCandless (who, by the way, was portrayed masterfully by Emile Hirsch) had for Mother Nature and how it was the guiding force of his idealistic outlook of man's existence. There's references to society's adversarial relationship with nature, ("there's a big/a big hard sun/beating on the big people/in the big hard world") which is juxtaposed with McClandless's humility in the face of the natural beauty he encountered throughout his travels ("when she comes to greet me/she is mercy at my feet/I see her inner charm/she just throws it back at me"). At its climax, theres a crashing wave of guitars and drums that completely captures the big sweeping shots of breathtaking vistas that Penn employs throughout the movie. It immediately takes me back to specific moments of the film that I suspect will still resonate with me years from now.

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